"Say, its only a paper moon / sailing over a cardboard sea / but it wouldn't be make-believe / if you believed in me." Indie studios Flashbang and Infinite Ammo built a hand-drawn, monochromatic, sidescrolling platformer around Ella Fitzgerald's wistful metaphor, and the results are quite beautiful. Paper Moon plays a lot like a typical 2-D platformer, but it lets you "pop" certain elements from one parallax-scrolling layer to the next. Some items pop into the protagonist's plane, while others zoom right through it. You can pop items to reach new areas, prevent your death, and even smack enemies right off the screen. It's clever, it looks cool, and it sets Paper Moon apart from its sidescrolling peers.
Paper Moon is a very short game, made shorter by the questionable inclusion of a timer that counts down from five minutes. There's no penalty for dying, but once the time runs out, your game is over. You'll probably replay several early stages before you figure out how to reach the conclusion. The good news is that Paper Moon lets you take a few different paths along the way, and with a bit of practice, you can easily complete it from start to finish in just a few minutes. Besides the timer, my only real complaint about Paper Moon is that there isn't more to it. It's a mere hors d'œuvre, when there are clearly enough ingredients here for a main course.
Not surprisingly, Paper Moon originated as a bonafide stereoscopic game, created for the Kokoromi Collective's Gamma 3D showcase last year. If you've got a pair of 3D glasses and an Xbox 360 USB controller handy, you can download it in its original, slightly less-refined, non-Flash form for PC or Mac.